The goal was to graduate from college.
West Virginia University, to be specific.
In seventh grade, I read the book “The President’s Men” and, using Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as my guides, I outlined what success would be for me - a college degree and a career in journalism. I even told my dad, when I was all of 12 years old, that I wanted to study political science.
I told him I'd go to work for the Washington Post, and then take down whomever the current president was in office, and win a pulitzer prize.
Then I went to college. I studied English. I got good at ordering drinks at the local coffee shop, understood that wearing black was part of my responsibility as an English major, and threw myself into the studies of Jack Kerouac and the Beat generation.
My goal then had morphed, but held new clarity - I would take a lot of uppers and spend three weeks writing the next great American Novel. I’d install a roll of paper into a typewriter and write for three straight weeks with no sleep until I had the 1998 version of “On the Road.”
Except I never tried uppers and couldn't think of anything interesting enough that would keep my attention for three weeks without sleep...
So in May of 1999, I walked down State Street in Erie, Pennsylvania in my cap and gown - diploma in hand, and wondered what my new goal should be.
My greatest mistake during that 10 year span was not clear at the time, but has become apparent in more recent years.
I'd moved the carrot.
In some ways it was natural - in that my goals changed over the years as I got to know myself and understand my own unique set of skills. But one thing I've always done that has never changed is this - at no point had I taken a positive perspective on my goals.
And what I mean by that is this:
From the time I was 12 years old to 22 I did a lot of good things. I lettered 10 times in three different varsity sports. I was player of the year four times in high school softball. I was the Sports Editor of both my high school and college newspapers. I earned a scholarship to play Division II lacrosse at Gannon University. I got better at writing.
I developed important friendships that I still hold dear to this day.
And I never took the time to appreciate one of those accomplishments.
I don’t write that last paragraph to tell you of accomplishments I had in my teens and early 20’s. I write to tell you that I kept moving the carrot. Not once during that time did I stand back for half of a second and hold my head up high.
Not once did I say to myself ah, Kim Lloyd, nice job. You’ve worked hard, and here you are graduating Cum Laude from a quality university. All I ever did was say, it is what is its - what’s next.
Listen, I like a humble person. In fact, I prefer humility to a giant ego. But at the same time, there have been so many times in the past 20 years that I have deprived myself the very acknowledgement of any success.
I have continually pushed happiness forward.
I’ll be happy when…
But then I hit the when…remember when we were in college and couldn’t wait to be adults? No finals, no quizzes, no tests or buying books. I’ll be happy when I graduate from college and have a job and have a boyfriend/girlfriend and get married and and and and…
I’ll be happy when.
There is a carrot in front of us and then we get to it and chuck it further down the sidewalk.
Here’s the thing - I work in a small business now and I understand one concept very clearly - if you’re not growing you’re dying.
But I’ve also watched one too many clients push happiness further down the road. With weight loss, with fat loss, with miles run, with workouts put in.
I know the drill. We want to put happiness off until we *****
You need to find happiness in the now. You need to find happiness and acceptance in where you are and who you are right now, in this very moment. Let yourself have the carrot. Sure you can create a bigger carrot to chuck on down the road for your next goal. But take a minute now and soak in who you are and what you’ve done now, today, in this moment.
Celebrate you now.
You deserve to celebrate who you are right now, gosh darn it.
So go do it.
Let me know how you celebrated. I'll be waiting to hear from you.